Monday, April 30, 2012

#communitysport: Gordon Clark

Our latest blog in our Community Sport series comes from Sport Wales Officer, Gordon Clark. In these difficult times it might not be the biggest or best sports clubs that will thrive but rather those who are prepared to make the hard decisions and adapt to the situation.

In this blog - which is one of two - Gordon presents some thoughts on how sports clubs can overcome the apathy that can be detrimental to future survival and growth.

Supporting community sports clubs 

In a previous blog, I introduced three steps for sports clubs to think ahead, make small incremental steps and learn from others.

In this blog, I’d like to share three more steps to overcome complacency and introduce real urgency…

Step 4 – Stay determined and ambitious – Do NOT settle

There will be difficult times so you will need to be determined, you will need to be ambitious in terms of what you want to achieve but most of all do not settle for the status quo. That small first step talked about in the previous blog is crucial to building up the early momentum and shifting the culture of the club.

Who are the sceptics in your club who you need to reason with and convince through facts and arguments about the need and potential of change? Who are the NoNos with the ten reasons for why it would never work or that things are fine?

In sharing some of his experience Svend Elkjaer says:

“Left alone NoNos can kill or mortally wound your organisation and I have, sadly, experienced situations, particularly in voluntary organisations, where long-standing NoNos would rather see their club go down than change their mindset and behaviour.

Do NOT waste time trying to co-opt NoNos – but don’t ignore them. An ignored NoNo can create much mischief; you are after all, disturbing/ruining their disturbed view of the world.”
It is not easy to deal with NoNo’s but when it comes down to it you may need to force them out of the position they hold to bring in new skills, knowledge, experience and motivation.

Step 5 - Learn from your failures and successes

Make sure you and your colleagues understand why things might have worked or not. Gradually you will use this learned knowledge and understanding to become more successful. Remember you will have failures but learn from them don’t use them as an excuses to stop.

In the words of Wayne Gretzky - “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

Step 6 – Make it fun

Try to have fun while you are moving forward; otherwise you will be too easily de-motivated and thrown off course when the sea becomes a bit choppy. I know – easier said than done, but that’s where continuous progress, however small and slow, becomes so important.

Make sure you enlist the help of the positive people in your club to help keep you and the club on track when things get hard.

Thanks to Svend Elkjaer, Sports Marketing Network, @Sportsmarketer who has given me approval to use some of his ideas.

Do you agree? How do you think sport clubs can ensure that they thrive and survive?

Follow Gordon on Twitter @ClarkSportwales

This blog was written in conjunction with the launch of a strategy for Community Sport in Wales.  If you’d like your say, get involved in the debate on twitter – using the hashtag #communitysport and you can mention us @sport_wales

#communitysport blog: Sarah Thomas

Our latest blog in our Community Sport series comes from Team GB hockey player, and London 2012 hopeful, Sarah Thomas.  The Merthyr Tydfil born, Olympic hockey star took a rare break from her London 2012 preparations recently to come back to her hometown and give her full support to Hockey Wales’ radical revamping of the sport in Wales. (Watch the video)

The 31-year-old – who is bidding for her second Olympic appearance after becoming the first Welsh woman to play at the highest level in Beijing – is passionate about community sport and helping to inspire the next generation of Olympians and grassroots hockey enthusiasts. (Watch the full video interview)

Sarah Thomas: Team GB hockey player and captain of Wales

I started playing hockey when I was 13 years old after trying the game in one of my PE classes. I played in a lesson one day, fortunately I got to pick up a hockey stick, and from that moment onwards I was hooked.

At the time we didn’t have a school club and without a school club you couldn’t go and compete at the county championship. We needed to do that if I was to get selected and go further up the ladder. So I managed to get a group of my friends together and we went to the trials as a team.

My mum told me she played hockey for county level. I’m not sure if that ever happened! But apparently she played hockey when she was younger as well, so maybe I’ve got her some of her genes in me.

I had my parent’s support and they took me along to the local Dowlais hockey club which was great for me. I went on to play for them competitively, for a number of years, and thoroughly loved playing hockey on the field and the social side of a team sport. I have met some wonderful friends along the way.

I went to Exeter University, on a scholarship for hockey, which was great. I was playing hockey for Exmouth Hockey Club at the time but at the same time we had BUSA Championships every Wednesday, which was fantastic. We’d train on a Monday night and then have BUSA on a Wednesday. When I arrived at Exeter they were in the league below, so  leaving Exeter we were playing finals consistently against Loughborough, which was a fantastic experience.

I still played hockey on the weekends with Clifton Ladies, in the England Premiership, but it was the kind of phase in my life where I wasn’t completely dedicated to hockey. At the time it wasn’t the kind of sport you could play professionally and it wasn’t something you could get paid to do. So I worked as a Disability Development Officer in Merthyr.

When I was a Disability Development Officer it was always hard to change people’s thoughts and ideas on what they’ve already thought for a number of years. So to get disabled children involved in sport was sometimes difficult. As is with hockey; if the inspiration isn’t there and people aren’t encouraging in schools and if parents haven’t got the time to take their children to the local club then it’s always going to be difficult.

But at the same time, as we’ve seen today (at an Olympic themed Easter camp at Cyfarthfa Comprehensive School in Merthyr Tydfil), there’s 180 children there, all enthusiastic and looking forward to playing hockey in the next couple of months. If we could just reach them and one, two, three, four of them continue to play and continue to be committed to it then hopefully we’ll have a couple of more Great Britain players (from Wales) in the future.

Things are so different now. Hockey Wales are making hockey much more fun and exciting. It’s freshened the game up and there are loads more opportunities for girls and boys to play hockey at whatever level they want.

I’m sure we’ll have more Olympic hockey players from Wales in the future, as well as lots more people playing just for fun in local leagues.

Watch the full video interview

For more information about playing hockey in Wales visit the Hockey Wales website or follow them on Twitter @HockeyWales

This blog was written in conjunction with the launch of a strategy for Community Sport in Wales.  If you’d like your say, get involved in the debate on twitter – using the hashtag #communitysport and you can mention us @sport_wales

Friday, April 27, 2012

#communitysport blog: Matt Page

Our latest blog in our Community Sport series comes from Matthew Page, a professional endurance cyclist for the Wiggle team. The Carmarthenshire athlete was 2011 UK and European 24 hour solo champion, 2010 UK 24 hour solo national champion and 2009 mountain mayhem 24 hour solo champion.

Here, he gives his thoughts on growing up with sport and the opportunities he had to take part.

Matthew Page: Wiggle Edurance cyclist 

As a child I was always very active and took part in a long list of sports.

I was always willing to get stuck into whatever was being played at school or on the local parks. Cricket, squash, football, rugby, tennis, cross-country running, hockey, gymnastics and obviously cycling - although it was more of a hobby and way of getting around than a sport while I was young.

I have a problem in that I can't sit down for more than a few minutes and really struggle if I'm asked to relax or do nothing. Sport was my outlet and I think my parents could see the benefits, so I was encouraged to participate in as many activities as possible.

School and sports clubs were an important part of life for me. Sport was what I most looked forward to, both in and out of school. Every playtime we would be out playing football or something similar.

In school I played for the cricket and rugby teams and represented the county at cross-country running. Outside school I played football for Llandovery until about 11 and also in the local squash league. It was usually a case of being OK at everything but not exceptional at anything in particular.

Now, to be able to call myself a professional cyclist and be lucky enough to travel around the world is something I never dreamt of doing. It has been hard work, but also taught me many things and given me far more confidence in life than I had before.

If I had one criticism of sport in Wales it is that as a nation we are very fixated upon Rugby and as a result no other sports get a look in. Rugby will probably always be the main sport, which is fine but it would be great for more sports to be recognised which would give young people access to them and give them more choice. I was very lucky that I had the opportunity to try and wide range of sports as a child, but not everyone has the same opportunities.

There are a few places that I've been to over the last few years that can teach us a few lessons.
In Australia, sport is a culture, everyone is mad for it. Either you compete at sport or you follow it. They have TV channels dedicated to it but they are far from a single sport country and they will show a huge variety of sports from around the world.

In Spain it is less of a culture, but they still have a great outdoor scene and use sport and activities as a way to socialise. In the UK many people go to the pub but in Spain everyone goes out for a walk, run or ride.

And in Pakistan I was able to see what is achievable even when money and facilities are almost non-existent. Children there use sport as an outlet to relax and have fun and improvise with whatever is at hand to play.

Follow Matt on Twitter @mattpage24 or check out his blog.

This blog was written in conjunction with the launch of a strategy for Community Sport in Wales.  If you’d like your say, get involved in the debate on twitter – using the hashtag #communitysport and you can mention us @sport_wales

#communitysport blog: Ray Williams

Our latest blog in our Community Sport series comes from Ray Williams. The 53-year-old former Royal Welch Guard Fusilier won gold at the 1986 Edinburgh Commonwealth Games and now proudly holds the title of Welsh Weightlifting Federation Head Coach.

Ray is a pillar of the Holyhead community and his Mill Bank club, that produced London 2012 hopeful Gareth Evans, has enjoyed a considerable ‘beefing up’ in Olympic year. He received some serious ‘spotting’ thanks to considerable partnership investment worth more than £300,000, to give his community club a major extension. 

Ray Williams with Olympic hopeful Gareth Evans and
Commonwealth bronze medallist Bob Wrench

It’s been about four years since we started to seek funds for what is now the Holyhead and Anglesey Weightlifting and Fitness Centre.

It’s an immense improvement and we’re hugely excited. It opens another chapter in the club’s history which is 40 years long and produced champions. This environment is going to be conducive for producing more for years and years and decades after I’ve gone.

It’s been a collaboration between families, friends, different amateur groups over a long period of time and every one of them we thank. Like any small town Holyhead has its negative aspects but this centre is a huge positive that will help the youngsters but also people in their 50s, 60s, 70s to do something that I’m passionate about; and that’s keep fit.

If we're going to create a nation of champions here in Wales we need excellent facilities. We've had fantastic weightlifting success on the world stage over the decades. But weightlifting is still a minority sport that we need to grow at the grassroots level to increase our talent pool and keep our winning ways going.

We’re always trying to nurture the next tranche of champions and I’m now working with all five secondary schools on Anglesey.

Now we’ve got more training space we’re going to be able to make it available to more people to use and with that increased reach it’s inevitable that we’re going to produce more champions. I look forward to that and I’d also like to say a big good luck to Gareth Evans, one of our greatest weightlifters of a generation from the club, as he closes in on a place at London 2012.

I think it was 1948 the last time we held the Olympic Games and I think there’s going to be a huge excitement and it’s going to build in these months as we get closer to London. I’d like to think that there’ll be an increase in the popularity of our sport but I think it comes down to people like me to make people aware that we’re here and then to sell the sport.

I’d say to anyone, from any sport, to do Olympic weightlifting as a by-product of what you do and it’s a phenomenal explosive sport to be involved in. So join a local club or come and see me.  

This blog was written in conjunction with the launch of a strategy for Community Sport in Wales.  If you’d like your say, get involved in the debate on twitter – using the hashtag #communitysport and you can mention us @sport_wales

#communitysport blog: Tamsin Jones

Our latest blog in our Community Sport series comes from Tamsin Jones. Tamsin was awarded Welsh Gymnastics’ Participation Coach of the Year in 2011, and her Ruthin and Denbigh Gymnastics was nominated for Club of the Year. The 37-year-old, from Ruthin, somersaulted into gymnastics coaching eight years ago whilst studying a sport degree at Glyndwr University.

With an enormous waiting list of keen potential gymnasts, meaning that she was having to turn children away, Tamsin needed an expansion and so opened a new club in Llangollen last year.  She soon realised however that to keep her clubs sustainable, and meeting the needs of budding young gymnasts in Denbighshire, she needed help. Support from Sport Wales helped springboard Tamsin’s idea of developing young gymnasts into coaches through a structured mentoring programme.

Ruthin and Denbigh Gymnastics Club engages 500 youngsters

Basically we’ve always had volunteers that have come up through being a gymnast and want to continue their commitment to the sport by coaching. But it was a bit fragmented because I myself am teaching 30 gymnasts in a session and trying to train the coaches and the volunteers in-house. Whilst you’re trying to teach yourself and also talk to parents I felt that I wasn’t giving them what they needed. They’ve given up their time, they’re very capable, and potentially have very good qualities in them to become coaches.

So as we’ve expanded over the last eight years I just felt the need to develop a programme for them. One of my coaches qualified as a Level 2 and to support her development I offered her a class as a head coach in Llangollen. That allowed me to back off a little, and not have to teach, and become more of a mentor.

Having that time gave me the opportunity to offer that mentorship to up and coming leaders. After going to a British Gymnastics conference, and seeing something similar that I could model, it evolved from there. Very quickly within a few months of becoming a Leadership Academy I approached Welsh Gymnastics and they were fully supportive of it as a pilot and saw it as a model that go out across Wales if it was successful.

The first year has been fantastic, in many different ways, for the development of the club. The feedback from our leaders themselves has been very good and we’ve been monitoring it through self-assessment all the way through.

It’s currently being rolled out at Deeside Gym Club and it’ll be an ongoing roll-out programme learning from the pilot. Currently in Llangollen we’ve got 15 academy leaders. Some of them have been volunteering with me for three years already. Although they were able to access gymnastics courses I wanted them to be involved in actually the management of the club and events, and judging, and not just going on a course to coach gymnasts but more like an overall coach development programme.

So they can actually support the club as well. They enjoy that because it’s linked to their club and they’re not going off site early on in their career to have a three day course and then trying to come back and apply it. I feel like this has given them pathways to develop areas they want to concentrate on.

Within a very short space of time I now have 15 competent leaders who are confident and of use to me. A lot of the feedback was that they didn’t realise that there was that much to coaching. Rather than just turn up to an event they now realise that it takes six weeks to arrange an event. They get involved in all the admin that has to go out to all the parents and the promotion of it and standing on the desk on the day collecting entries. Basically involved in everything and they’re more appreciative of everything because of it.

One of them, who is very quiet but fully committed, has found that the academy has completely given her the confidence to know that she’s making the right decisions. So much so that she’s now mentoring other leaders in the academy and that’s within a six month turnaround. All in all it’s been a pleasant experience for myself to see the development of these youngsters. Some of them are thinking about a career in teaching now.

The Sport Wales funding basically enabled us to do it, we couldn’t have done it without it simple as that.
We have really proactively developed a programme to keep them involved. They only train two hours a week, which in the world of gymnastics is nothing. If you want to compete at the highest level you do 20 hours in the gym. So these are children that we give a wider programme of competitions and badge work.

Early on when I came to the club I changed things with the support of everyone. I myself had come from a display team and knew the enjoyment that I’d had as a child being able to go to your school event and show off what you can do. It’s great for the community because they see the gym club and then new children want to join. We do displays in communities that don’t know gymnastics goes on in the area but it’s also word of mouth because trying to get children to start something new can be quite scary for some.

Our after school clubs give children the confidence that if they know the coaches are coaching the club sessions they can overcome their fears of starting something new.

We’ve been going for ten years now in the area and each year we’re growing. We have about 300 members in Ruthin and Denbigh and 50 in Llangollen after only opening in September. Then I reach another 200 in schools through after school clubs and PE. I did a 5x60 after school session at the high school for a year and trampolining. We have a 5x60 Officer, Bethan Griffiths, who’s actually one of our coaches and she delivers sessions in Llangollen.

I couldn’t have expanded or done any of this without the commitment of what previously had been five coaches and now upwards of 20. It’s a team effort. I’d like to see local after school clubs have young leaders delivering those clubs and perhaps that’s another 100 kids that join our club.

I’m very lucky because I’m in a job that never stops evolving and I make the most of it. I love my job and I love teaching and watching the kids’ development.

I did it as a child and got great enjoyment from it. It was something I was able to achieve in and I just have great memories, so I know therefore what the children are getting from it. It’s an avenue of enjoyment and achievement. I was part of a display team and we literally do part of the same warm up now! So that display that I did as a nine-year-old child my daughter is doing now! I was inspired as a child and I’ve just recreated that for others.

This blog was written in conjunction with the launch of a strategy for Community Sport in Wales.  If you’d like your say, get involved in the debate on twitter – using the hashtag #communitysport and you can mention us @sport_wales

Thursday, April 26, 2012

#communitysport blog: @womensinstitute

Our latest blog in our Community Sport series comes from Rhian Connick. Rhian joined the Women’s Institute in 1998 as Head of NFWI Wales.

Prior to joining the WI, she gained a degree in Human Movement Studies and Sport Science. Previous roles included classroom assistant in a school for children with visual impairments; senior assistant manager in a busy city leisure centre; and development officer with the charity Scope.

Sport and leisure have been an important part of the Women’s Institute (WI) for many years and recently - thanks to funding from Sport Wales - the WI has developed its WISE (Women Into Sensible Exercise) Scheme which aims to encourage women to make healthy lifestyle changes with the aim of improving their health.

The WISE scheme has enabled over 2,000 members to participate in a range of physical activities. 

Members have seen many benefits such as consistent weight loss, reduced blood pressure, generally better health and a slight reduction in taking medication, and along the way they have had great fun participating in activities in their community.

But the organisation does not only concern itself with the health of its members - as mothers and grandmothers - WI members recognise the value of sport for a healthy population.

So much so that they passed a resolution in 2006 urging “HM Government to recognise that the participation in sport is an essential factor in the creation of a healthy population; ensure the re-establishment of competitive sport in the curricula of all schools and take such steps as are necessary to reverse the decline in the availability of sporting facilities for all citizens.”

This blog was written in conjunction with the launch of a strategy for Community Sport in Wales.  If you’d like your say, get involved in the debate on twitter – using the hashtag #communitysport and you can mention us @sport_wales

#communitysport blog: Shane Thomas

Our latest blog in our Community Sport series comes from Shane Thomas. In 2010 Sport Wales was able to help Shotton Amateur Boxing Club to duck a fatal knockout blow.

Back then their gym was a cramped room above a pub when a hike in the lease left them fighting for their lives. Head Coach, Shane Thomas, refused to throw in the towel and approached Sport Wales for a Development Grant to get them off the ropes. In boxing terms, they were facing a standing count, with just three months left on their lease before they went under. Sport Wales was happy to step into the ring to support their cause to secure new premises. Shane picks up the story...

Shotton ABC' converted a derelict building into a thriving boxing gym

There was nothing in there; no water, no electric, no roof on it and we just did it up. That’s down to Sport Wales, who’ve been great, and helped us with it. Without the funding we’d have never changed premises. Well to be honest with you we would have actually closed down because we couldn’t afford the rent.

The membership’s shot through the roof. In the other gym we probably had 15 lads boxing. Now we’ve probably got 40 lads training and boxing, plus we’ve got girls’ fitness classes, we’ve got men’s fitness classes. It’s open seven days a week, near enough all day. We’ve got four professional boxers and three of them are unbeaten. It’s just really escalating.

The Save the Family kids who come to us have all got problems but when they come to the gym they’re normal people. That’s the thing about boxing gyms; people are nervous about going to one but they soon realise when they’re there that everyone’s there to help them. Even the professional boxers will help with training. If they see a kid doing something wrong they’ll help him out. The younger lads look up to the pro boxers because they want to be there. We’ve got a couple of kids there who’ve got a few problems and issues, like anger management problems and mental health problems, and they’ve really come along well.

They’re nice kids. They don’t get in trouble in school. If anyone gets caught street fighting they’re out, we won’t have it. It’s like a youth club, they train hard but they have a laugh with us. It’s good for them. We had a little lad there, he’s only seven-years-old, but carrying a lot of weight and he loves it. The first time he couldn’t do it and cried but he’s kept coming, kept coming, and he’s lost about three stone now.

Everybody thinks boxing is like fighting. It’s nothing like fighting. We don’t teach them to fight, we teach them to box. The fitness side is amazing, you can’t beat it. We do a lot of fitness because I’d say 80% of boxing is your fitness. Even a bad, fit boxer will beat a good, unfit boxer. He’ll beat him every time because he’ll just keep going. All my lads are fit when they box. They enjoy getting fit and the subs are only a pound.

We don’t even charge some of the kids. We had one lad there, he could barely afford to come twice a week and we wanted him to box because he’s a good little boxer. I said ‘well don’t pay.’ Now he trains six times a weekand has just won the novice championships. It’s not about money, it never has been with us. If they don’t pay, they don’t pay. The professional lads obviously pay and I get a percentage of their money but it all goes back into the club, every single penny.

Even though the gym’s a lot bigger we are struggling for space already. It’s mad how many people come now. At the women’s boxercise class we get between ten and 15 people every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. We’ve just men’s fitness classes have just started now. It’s hard for the lads who are boxing to train, especially if they’ve got fights coming up.

We’re trying to keep it in the community by putting local shows on and all the good boxers seem to be coming to us. We just want to build it so that people come to watch it. That’s what keeps the club going is the tickets on the amateur shows. We want the local people to come and support the local lads. All the money that comes from the shows goes towards the club; it buys the equipment and pays the bills.

It takes over your life! But I’ve been in it all my life. We had two coaches, me and Clive at the old gym, and now we’ve got five registered coaches. We’ve got another lad coming in; he’s a registered coach through England and he’s moved down to this area. So we’ll have six coaches.

It’s not a journeymen club; our lads want to win all the time, it’s a mentality.

This blog was written in conjunction with the launch of a strategy for Community Sport in Wales.  If you’d like your say, get involved in the debate on twitter – using the hashtag #communitysport and you can mention us @sport_wales

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

#communitysport blog: Steve Perks

Our latest blog in our Community Sport series comes from Steve Perks. Originally from Llanelli, Steve Perks became Welsh National Event Coach for Sprints and Relays in 1990 and was Head Coach (Athletics) at the Commonwealth Games Victoria Canada 1994.

Under his stewardship, in 1998, the British relay squad became the first team to win the European title in Budapest a feat they repeated in Munich (1999 & 2003) four years later. At the World Championships they achieved two Silver medals establishing a new British and European Record at Seville 1999. Then 2004 saw the ultimate achievement for the team – winning Olympic gold in Athens.

2004 Athens Olympic relay gold medallist Darren Campbell

I began to compete for the Boys Brigade and realised that I enjoyed the races and went from there to secondary school and developed.

I had very supportive parents and other people who were willing to give me their time - coaches and teachers.

School sport is instrumental in giving young people an opportunity to participate, experience and compete, hopefully in a range of different sports.

Clubs in the main can develop the interests further by giving either a greater competitive aspect or different experiences.

The main issue is to get young people enthused about the worth of keeping healthy and that there are a host of different ways in enabling this to happen, whether it is on an individual basis, within a group of people or whether within a team based sport.

Getting involved is so easy and so rewarding. When you are asked to get involved - do so; you never know where it can lead!

This blog was written in conjunction with the launch of a strategy for Community Sport in Wales.  If you’d like your say, get involved in the debate on twitter – using the hashtag #communitysport and you can mention us @sport_wales

#communitysport blog – Kelly Davies, Vi-Ability

Our latest blog in our Community Sport series comes from Kelly Davies. Kelly is an ex-international football player with 36 caps for Wales who has also played for Arsenal and Liverpool Ladies. She is also the youngest woman to obtain an MBA in the Football Industries.

During her studies, the idea came to her for a social business that could tackle the issues of commercially unsustainable football clubs and youth disengagement in education. Vi-Ability was born.

Kelly Davies founder of football social enterprise Vi-Ability

For me, community sport means doing two things: (1) Providing participative sports opportunities for all members of the community regardless of their age, gender, ethnicity, ability or social status; and (2) Broadening the scope of that sporting activity to include educative/sport initiatives, social inclusion/cohesion projects and other community related activities.

In my opinion, the two have to go hand in hand and be done in an innovative/ entrepreneurial way for community sport to become financially self-sustainable in the long term, and to be given the opportunity to thrive – something which is of paramount importance to attract interest and get people hooked for life; particularly from those individuals who have historically struggled with motivation towards sports and would hysterically laugh at you if you asked them to join a fitness class because they thought it was a joke. 

Two problems, which I knew existed, spurred me on - Well three if you include my Dad telling me - in the politest possible way - at the age of 21 that I needed to get an alternative career because I wouldn’t earn enough as a footballer and he wouldn’t keep paying for his little princess for the rest of his life.

The first problem was the alarming number of football clubs threatened by or going into administration. In the simplest terms, football clubs go into administration because they do not operate like a business. In my opinion key people at the club make irrational decisions with their money. Instead of investing in a commercial director - to improve the business side of things through the maximisation of current income streams, and the discovery of alternative sources of revenue - football chairmen get seduced by the promises of football managers that buying another decent centre back and forward will turn the club’s fortunes around. Yet the reality is nothing can be guaranteed. For example, what happens if the new players get injured in the first game?

The second problem was the rising number of young people not in education, employment or training. For me, this was an even bigger concern as it was an enormous waste of a young person’s potential and the positive contribution they could make to their community and the economy. 

I felt I had solutions to both of these problems…and came up with the idea of Vi-Ability.

At the moment, because training and supported employment (i.e. apprenticeship schemes) within the sports industry is predominantly focused on promoting instructor qualifications and careers - most individuals the Vi-Ability project will look to engage will have a misconception that ‘if they aren’t a football player or football coach’ they won’t find a job in the industry. The reality is very different!

Whilst on programme with us, individuals are given an in-depth insight into the varied job opportunities that exist within a football club. Participants don’t just shadow existing employees within operational departments - they actually carry out specific responsibilities in order to acquire valuable experience and gain greater understanding of job expectations. For example, if they are running an enterprising activity they have to project manage it. This helps participants to gain transferrable skills, such as planning and delegation that will help them compete in an ever-changing labour market in the future.

Because of its innovative nature, we believed that it was of paramount importance to get the programme accredited so there was a) recognition for the individuals completing the work; and b) protection of the intellectual property. This soon happened, and we now have a customized BTEC in Football Industries award, certificate and diploma. We have exclusive delivery rights and can now generate sales from it. 

All the people that have enrolled on one of our courses (which now includes one lady of 82 years) have changed their life in a positive way through sport to varying degrees. For example; some may have just developed confidence or increased their self-esteem, some may have made conscious healthy life style changes or become better parents or neighbours, whilst others have gained employment. Last year alone, we helped 56 individuals gain jobs, which is absolutely fantastic!

The Vi-Ability programme has been designed so that every few weeks an activity will be undertaken to add value to both the participant and the local community. An example, that best demonstrates this is recently a young group of participants were asked to design, plan and run a project for the community that helps address a social, health, or educational issue. They decided to run a ‘late night football’ project. This activity not only helped the participants to improve their ability to coach youngsters with challenging attitudes and behaviours, but it adds value for the community in that it ‘keeps kids off the street’, which helps tackle antisocial behaviour and makes residents feel safer.

I’ve managed to galvanise the community and bring lots of partners together by creating a friendly atmosphere and offering lots of cakes and biscuits! No on a serious note…it’s by being open and involving staff, volunteers, members of the community and other organisations in what we do and plan to do in the future. We’ve recently achieved the ‘investors in people’ mark for this.

Follow Kelly, and Vi-Ability, on Twitter @Vi_Ability

This blog was written in conjunction with the launch of a strategy for Community Sport in Wales.  If you’d like your say, get involved in the debate on twitter – using the hashtag #communitysport and you can mention us @sport_wales

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Sorry, dear non-German-speakers, I can't translate this...
But thanks for visiting my blog!

#communitysport blog: Jamie Turley

Our latest blog in our Community Sport series comes from Jamie Turley. In his role as a Young Ambassador, 19-year-old Jamie from Ffynongroyw, has been responsible for inspiring, leading and coaching hundreds of young people in his community to get involved in sport.

The Sports Science and Outdoor Activities student freely gives up countless hours of his spare time to motivate othersto take part in a wide range of PE and School Sport activities, working closely with youngsters who wouldn’t normally take part.

Denbighshire Young Ambassador Jamie Turley

I am a Platinum Young Ambassador in Wales. For those of you who don’t know what this is; it’s a voluntary role that involves young people driving sport in their communities. It was launched alongside the Olympic Games bid for London, with each and every Ambassador putting into practice awareness of the Olympic and Paralympic values.

The role is a never ending trail of inspiration, to see the impact you have leading sporting opportunities for the young people around you. It can be anything from leading a sports session in a primary school, to delivering presentations to the Sport Wales Board and working with LOCOG. As Young Ambassadors we all share the passion to drive what’s summarised in the Sport Wales vision of getting ‘every child hooked on sport for life’.

Community sport is at the heart of my passion. It’s where my first opportunities came and where I always refer back to for anything I do. Sport at the centre of a community brings many benefits perhaps unnoticed at times. It not only unites the community young and old, through the social side many sports clubs bring, but it provides a common ground for the development of many life skills and personal achievement.

It teaches you respect for those around you, for your coach, and your team mates. I learn every time I’m involved in community sport and I’m inspired to achieve greater things for the benefit of my community. Seeing the kid’s faces light up with enthusiasm, and for them to be thankful for our efforts, really gives you a feeling of giving back to a cause which gave so much to me.

Community sport needs to be embraced firstly by the participants, if the children are motivated to take part then the sequence becomes like a snowball effect of inspiration. The coaches and volunteers inspire the children, the children inspire the coaches. Each community has its heroes and it’s about utilising and supporting everyone involved. I personally feel there needs to be more recognition for unsung heroes, coaches, volunteers, who - without fail - week in week out go out and deliver sessions with passion.

Facilities, finance, transport, kit; there are so many barriers sometimes to overcome, but one thing always comes out on top and that’s the passion that the people involved have in all they do.

Sport plays a huge role in bringing a community together. No matter what level if anyone’s ever played for a sports team or club, they’ll have friends from that club to last a lifetime. The common ground concept flourishes not only in a sense of like for like, members friends with members, but coaches, members, secretaries, treasurers, orange preparers, and supporters, the network it forms throughout a community - particularly the smaller ones - develops continually. This I believe cannot be summarized in writing but has to be witnessed as it’s personal to each and every community.

I have been lucky enough to have been selected as an Olympic torchbearer on May 29th in Towyn. This represents not only a great personal achievement but I feel I’m representing each and every coach, participant, and volunteer I’ve ever worked with. It’s a moment to shine, close enough to home for my community to be around and be involved with the celebration. Whilst at my new university home of Bangor I have also been asked to assume a role of volunteer co-ordinator at the Olympic flame evening celebration a day before my torch bearing.

Whatever happens I know having seen firsthand, the impact of the torch relay will be hugely influential and will create a long lasting legacy across my home region of North Wales. It will inspire the community as a whole, more participants into clubs, as well as leaders and volunteers to continue what they’re already doing for a very long time to come. But above and beyond that, it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity, inspiring members of the community to be the best they can be. 

As for the Young Ambassadors and the opportunities that brings; the program I feel will continue to grow and develop the next generation of leaders in sport.

This blog was written in conjunction with the launch of a strategy for Community Sport in Wales.  If you’d like your say, get involved in the debate on twitter – using the hashtag #communitysport and you can mention us @sport_wales

#communitysport blog: Ainsley Richards

Our latest blog in our Community Sport series comes from Ainsley Richards. In her role as a Young Ambassador, the teenager from Swansea has been responsible for inspiring, leading and coaching hundreds of young people in her community to get involved in sport.

A London 2012 Young Ambassador for the City and County of Swansea, she has been a busy volunteer with her school, the feeder primary schools and in her community as a coach.

Ainsley with Olympic and world Champion cyclist Geraint thomas
My parents have inspired to me take part in sport. They both train regularly. My dad has represented Wales in Karate and my mother has recently won two Welsh titles in the Welsh Masters Badminton Nationals, and represents Wales at Masters level. Both my younger brother and sister participate in different sports. This season, all three of us  ran in the County Cross Country team. It’s not unusual to see the whole family out running!

I realise the importance of sport from an obvious health factor, but individuals play a huge part in encouraging and motivating young people in sport. Certain individuals  that have been a great inspiration to me include people like Andrea Whitcombe in running, Lloyd Cole in Surfing, Huw John in Badminton and Wendy Bleddyn in Netball. They are so passionate about their sport, their enthusiasm is contagious and has  inspired me to develop and compete.

School has been really important. I attend YG Gwyr, where the PE department is excellent. Bethan Davies, Head of PE, has supported me in every area of sport, in torrential rain in cross country events and even sometimes travelling as far as Devon for a weekend to enable the school to compete in a British surfing competition, where I secured third place!

I wouldn’t have reached the level of badminton I have attained if it wasn’t for Mr Dai Long and his commitment to the school badminton club! Mrs. Katherine Davies, head teacher has also been really supportive of all my sporting activities.

Outside school, I belong to a number of different sporting clubs, including Glamorgan Badminton club, Mumbles Treforus netball and Swansea Harriers. It’s great having so many different friends outside school, and obviously it has improved my performance in these different sports.

I sometimes wish I had started to compete at an earlier age and had more opportunities to try different sports at primary school. My school had no resources on-site, so we had to be transported to venues. I used to envy children who have playing fields in the school grounds!

I was recently asked to help in a survey promoting ‘Rounders’ in England. I would love to see the development of Rounders as a sport in Wales.

I think that the advantages of taking part have to be promoted to young people at an early age. The Young Ambassador scheme is developing throughout Wales rapidly. I believe it is important for younger children to have role models to aspire to. Some young people are not aware of the activities available to them, perhaps sporting organisations could be a little more pro-active in visiting schools and offering taster sessions.

I have been fortunate to have been selected to volunteer at the Olympics. I’m hoping that the London 2012 Olympics/Paralympics will be a great vehicle to get more young people participating in sport.

This blog was written in conjunction with the launch of a strategy for Community Sport in Wales.  If you’d like your say, get involved in the debate on twitter – using the hashtag #communitysport and you can mention us @sport_wales

Monday, April 23, 2012

#communitysport blog: Dot Davies

Our latest post in a series of blogs on Community Sport comes from Dot Davies. Dot is an S4C and BBC presenter – she’s a huge sports fan and mother of two young boys.

Someone told me recently that New Zealand kids believe they can walk on water, whereas Welsh kids will ask for their wellies. True? Not sure. But it made me think. Putting aside ideas of an inferiority complex as a nation, where can we begin to instill that 'anything is possible' attitude in our children?

Community Sport. Perhaps I feel even more strongly about this since becoming a parent. Almost without even thinking about it, we have imagined from the day they were born how sport would and should shape them as people with individuals from within our community becoming their mentors, their confidantes, their friends.  My children are only four and three yet already involved in rugby and gymnastics allowing them to make friends, teaching them communication and social skills, not to mention the social benefits for myself and the other parents we've met.

A passion for sport is what I truly want for my boys. To want to do their best and to enjoy what comes with that. All this in the hope that sport and the community it thrives within, will help shape mine and all our children as individuals providing not only health, but social benefits.

Who's to say that mine or next door's children aren't capable of being world class footballers, athletes, rowers, cyclists? Anything they want to be. They do however need to be given the opportunity and the encouragement to strive to be the best they can be.

I look around my peers and each one has a story of how this running club and that netball team helped them through their teens. I took it for granted. I'd like to think there will be a wider community who will look out for my children and want the best for them. Sport helps us to achieve that. Community Sport can only be a good thing. Wouldn't it be great if our children feared nothing and left their wellies by the door.

Follow Dot on Twitter @dotdavies1

This blog was written in conjunction with the launch of a strategy for Community Sport in Wales.  If you’d like your say, get involved in the debate on twitter – using the hashtag #communitysport and you can mention us @sport_wales

Top tips for setting up your sports business

Our latest Community Sport blog is written by Becky Johnson, General Manager and Head Gymnastics Coach of Planet Gymnastics. She set up her private, family-run enterprise in 2008 and here shares her top tips for setting up a new sports business.

•             Be prepared for long hours and late nights

When I first set up Planet Gymnastics, I was working 14 hour days – coming in at 8am and often not leaving before 10pm. But it is all worth it. Get a good support team behind you – staff, partners, parents, whoever – and remember that it will be worth those sleepless nights!

•             Persevere even when things get tough

Lots of things happen all the time with a new business. In the first year we were burgled twice, had the loos flooded several times and came up against several expenses which we did not account for. At times it felt that it wasnt worth it but with the support of family, friends staff and even customers we cleaned up and carried on.

•             If your business involves something you love its easier to work hard

•             Be prepared to keep adapting to your customer base

We send our customers regular feedback forms (especially for the after school club) and newsletters. We hold open days for parents to view classes and give us their feedback. We look at numbers in all classes and change classes if numbers are low for something new. The aim is to make every hour of the timetable work. We have a Facebook page where we share news with members. When we started we thought mother and toddler sessions would generate income for us in the day but there was too much competition in the local area. We now offer after school club and a nursery wraparound service instead to utilise the space in the day.

•             Our business runs like a family

We treat all customers as individuals whether they come for one hour a week or 20 hours a week.

Providing gymnastics and dance tuition for all ages, from babies to adult, Planet Gymnastics has ensured a sustainable income from CSSIW registered after school club care. After-school care includes school pick ups and a gymnastics lesson in a fully equipped Gymnastics and Dance centre.

Planet Gymnastics’ classes include Teen Gym, Cheerleading, Street Cheer, Tumbling, Parkour, Artistic Gymnastics, Adult Gymnastics and Pre-school and toddler gymnastics.

Find out more at:

This blog was written in conjunction with the launch of a strategy for Community Sport in Wales.  If you’d like your say, get involved in the debate on twitter – using the hashtag #communitysport and you can mention us @sport_wales

Friday, April 20, 2012

#communitysport blog - Simon Harding, Thundercat Racing Wales

Our latest Community Sport blog is written by Simon Harding, aged 35, from Neyland in Pembrokeshire, who races powerboats as part of the UK Thundercat Series and has been selected to represent Great Britain at the World Championships in Norway in August. Here, he tells us how he got into this very different sport.

UK Thundercat Series racer - Simon Harding
When I left school I worked in Newmarket backing and breaking race horses for Sheikh Mohammed. But after three years I had an accident when a two year-old colt fell back, rolled over on me and broke my pelvis in three places.

I came back to Pembrokeshire and as part of the healing process I started to do some water sports.
I did kayaking and surfing to build some strength in my lower body and got into it that much I managed to get on a course with Pembrokeshire County Council and Waterford Council in Ireland to promote water sports. I became an instructor, got a good few qualifications, and worked for Pembrokeshire water sports for six years and then as a freelance instructor.

I did a lot of work for a very good friend called Ceri Davies, who owns Swansea Water Sports, who got me into power boating and jet skiing. We did demos at the south and north Wales boats shows and I got my first blast in a thundercat and loved every minute. It was a love at first throttle turn!

I did this for few years and bought my first cat. After a year I bought a brand new one and began racing last year. I had a great season and the people involved are so great - if anyone has any problems with their boat or needs anything then everyone helps out. It’s something I really want to be involved in.

I had a very mixed year with some great results but then some very bad luck as well with two weekends with engine problems. This year is looking to be a great season with a new co-pilot in Tom Hamilton, who is a natural in the boat with his experience in racing yachts. We’ve been preparing the boat together.
We are both looking forward to going to the World Championships in Grimsted in Norway in August. We are only the second Welsh boat to ever to make it to the GB team so great news for Welsh sport.
We are also the first boat in the UK championships to become carbon neutral. We are racing but want to think of the environment as well.

When I was young it was just horses and more horses. Some of my friends were into water sports like waterskiing and kayaking and used to do bits in the summer.

I did some work for the Princes Trust as an instructor and found there are so many positive effects on young people when you get them out on the water. If it was out in a boat or kayaking or coasteering or surfing, you just don't know if you are introducing the next World champion of the sport to the water.

Follow Thundercat Racing Wales on Facebook. 

This blog was written in conjunction with the launch of a strategy for Community Sport in Wales.  If you’d like your say, get involved in the debate on twitter – using the hashtag #communitysport and you can mention us @sport_wales

blog #chwaraeoncymunedol - Gary Lewis, Urdd Gobaith Cymru

Mae ein blog diweddaraf am Chwaraeon Cymunedol yn dod gan Gary Lewis, Cyfarwyddwr Chwaraeon Urdd Gobaith Cymru. Mae Adran Chwaraeon yr Urdd yn cyflwyno ystod o glybiau a gweithgareddau chwaraeon yn wythnosol drwy gydol y flwyddyn er mwyn annog plant a phobl ifanc ar hyd a lled Cymru i gael hwyl, cystadlu a pherfformio drwy gyfrwng y Gymraeg, neu fel dysgwyr Cymraeg.   

Prif ffocws yr adran a’i staff yw gweithio gyda chymunedau ar hyd a lled Cymru, gan weithio ar bob lefel, o lawr gwlad i bartneriaethau ag Ysgolion Cynradd ac Uwchradd a hefyd datblygu strwythurau cymunedol er mwyn sicrhau bod plant a phobl ifanc ar hyd a lled Cymru’n cael digon o gyfle i gymryd rhan mewn pecyn amrywiol a chynhwysfawr o weithgareddau cysylltiedig â chwaraeon. 
Cyfranogiad yw prif nod Adran Chwaraeon yr Urdd – cael merched a bechgyn ifanc i fod yn egnïol a’u denu at chwaraeon a rhoi diddordebau iddyn nhw y tu allan i’r ysgol. Un elfen sylfaenol o’n gwaith ni yw’r newid hwnnw o gymryd rhan ar gae chwarae’r ysgol i gymryd rhan yn y gymuned. Mae’n hanfodol bod plant a phobl ifanc yn teimlo’n berchen ar eu gweithgareddau er mwyn iddyn nhw deimlo’n rhan o’r clwb cymunedol maen nhw’n ei fynychu ac, yn bwysicach na dim, er mwyn eu cael i gymryd rhan yn egnïol wythnos ar ôl wythnos.

Mae nifer fawr o’n clybiau ni’n cael eu cynnal nawr gan bobl ifanc sydd wedi cymryd rhan yn ystod y 10-15 mlynedd diwethaf. Maen nhw’n cael profiad aruthrol yn cynnal y sesiynau hyn ac mae eu gweld yn cyflwyno’r sesiynau yn ffantastig. Maen nhw’n esiampl ragorol i’r genhedlaeth iau.

Y broses yw ein bod ni’n cyflwyno sesiynau blasu mewn ysgolion i ddechrau, i greu diddordeb yn y gweithgareddau rydyn ni’n eu cynnig yn y gymuned. Rydyn ni’n cyflwyno’r rhain mewn partneriaeth â Champau’r Ddraig, 5x60 a hefyd Adrannau Chwaraeon Awdurdodau Lleol ac yna’n darparu llwybr cynnydd i’n strwythur cymunedol.
Un esiampl dda o’r gwaith rydyn ni’n ei gyflwyno yw ein gweithgarwch ni yng Ngwent ar hyn o bryd.

Dim ond un ysgol gyfun (cyfrwng Cymraeg) sydd yng Ngwent gyfan ar hyn o bryd, ond rydyn ni’n gweithio ar draws tair sir yn rhanbarth Gwent – Casnewydd, Blaenau Gwent a hefyd Sir Fynwy – ac rydyn ni’yn gwneud yn siŵr ein bod ni’n cyfeirio disgyblion o Ysgol Gyfun Gwynllyw i weithio fel gwirfoddolwyr ym mhob ardal yng Ngwent . Rydyn ni’n dileu’r ffiniau er mwyn gwneud yn siŵr bod pobl yn cael cymryd rhan ble maen nhw’n byw.

Chwaraeon cymunedol yw’r man cychwyn – dyna darddiad chwaraeon. Os edrychwch chi’n gyffredinol ar bethau, mae gan unrhyw gamp sy’n llwyddiannus strwythur chwaraeon mawr ar lawr gwlad. Y cyfle cyntaf i bobl ifanc gymryd rhan mewn chwaraeon yw yn y gymuned. Mae’n gyfrwng mor bwysig i gael plant i fod yn egnïol y tu allan i amgylchedd yr ysgol.
Os oes gennych chi strwythur chwaraeon cymunedol cryf, mae’n cynnig cyfle i blant a phobl ifanc gymryd rhan o oedran ifanc. Yn bwysicach na hynny, os yw’r llwybr hwnnw wedi’i gysylltu â Chorff Rheoli Cenedlaethol, a chlybiau cymunedol eraill, yna mae gennych chi lwybrau cynnydd i fynd â phlant mor bell ag y maent yn dymuno.

Daw’r rhan fwyaf o’n llwyddiannau ni o adeiladu sylfaen gref o oedran ifanc. Yr unig ffordd i wneud hynny yw drwy ddechrau ar y lefel sylfaen; dysgu sgiliau sylfaenol i blant ar gyfer chwaraeon, i roi cychwyn da iddyn nhw ar gyfer pa gamp bynnag maen nhw eisiau cymryd rhan ynddi wrth iddyn nhw ddatblygu a thyfu. Er enghraifft, byddwn ni nawr yn sefydlu ein datblygiad cymunedol yng Nghyfnod Allweddol 1, ble byddwn yn dysgu i’n plant ni i gyd y sgiliau SYLFAENOL y mae arnyn nhw eu hangen er mwyn datblygu a chymryd rhan mewn chwaraeon. Mae gan yr Urdd lwybr clir i bob camp gymunedol ac yna llwybr cystadlu o lefel leol i Gemau Cymru.

Mae’n bwysig rhoi cyfle i blant ddatblygu eu sgiliau iaith y tu allan i amgylchedd yr ysgol a’u datblygu drwy chwaraeon. Rydyn ni wedi gweld bod chwaraeon yn gyfrwng ffantastig ar gyfer hyn, nid yn unig ar gyfer datblygu’r iaith ond hefyd i ddatblygu chwaraeon cymunedol a datblygu plant ifanc a’u cadw nhw’n egnïol. Rydyn ni’n defnyddio model syml; rydyn ni’n datblygu hyfforddwyr, yn dod o hyd i bobl ifanc i weithio gyda hwy ac yna’n creu gweithgareddau hwyliog a chynaliadwy. Mae’n fodel syml sy’n gweithio’n ffantastig ac mae’r iaith yn elfen allweddol o’r llwyddiant hwn.   
Mae’n rhoi cyfle i blant fwynhau gweithgareddau cymunedol lleol gan wneud yn siŵr bod yr hyn a gynigir o safon uchel, gydag arweinwyr a gwirfoddolwyr o safon uchel, a gefnogir yn dda iawn, ac sy’n cyflawni i ni. Os yw’r sylfaen yn iawn, yna mae pob math o bethau’n bosib yn fy marn i, i Gymru ac wrth ddatblygu sêr chwaraeon y dyfodol.   
Ysgrifennwyd y blog hwn i gyd-fynd â lansiad strategaeth ar gyfer Chwaraeon Cymunedol yng Nghymru. Os hoffech chi ddweud eich barn, byddwch yn rhan o’r drafodaeth ar twitter – gan ddefnyddio’r hashtag #communitysport a gallwch ein crybwyll ni ar @sport_wales

#communitysport blog – Gary Lewis, Urdd Gobaith Cymru

Our latest Community Sport blog is written by Gary Lewis, Sports Director of Urdd Gobaith Cymru. The Urdd Sports Department delivers a range of clubs and sports activities on a weekly basis throughout the year to encourage children and young people across Wales to have fun, compete and perform through the medium of Welsh or as Welsh learners.

The department and it’s staff‘s main focus is to engage with communities across Wales working at all levels from grassroots, to Junior and Secondary Schools partneships and also developing community structures in order to ensure that children and young people across Wales have plenty of opportunity to participate in a varied and comprenensive package of sport related activities.

Participation is the Urdd Sports Department's main objective – getting young girls and boys active and getting them into sport and giving them interests outside of the school. A fundemental part of our work is that transition from school playground into the community. It’s vital that children and Young people have ownership of their activities in order for them to feel part of the community club which they attend and most importantly to get them actively involved week in week out.

A large number of our clubs are  now  being run by young people who  have participated in clubs over the past 10-15 years. They gain tremendous experience in running these sessions and seeing them actually delivering the sessions is fantastic. They are great role models to the younger generation.

The Process is that we initially deliver  taster sessions in schools, to create an interest for what activities  we’re offering in the community. We deliver this in partnerhip with Dragon Sport, 5x60, as well as Local Authority Sports departments and then provide an exit route into our community structure.

A good example of the work that we deliver is the work that we’re doing in Gwent at the moment.

Currenty there is only one (Welsh language) comprehensive school covering the whole of Gwent but we are working across three counties in Gwent – Newport, Blaenau Gwent and also Monmouthshire – and we’re making sure that we signpost pupils from Ysgol Gyfun Gwynllyw to work as volunteers to all areas of Gwent. We’re taking the boundaries away to make sure that people can  take part wherever they live. 

Community sport is where it all starts – that is the root of sport. I think if you look generally across the board any sport that is succesful have got a big, strong structure at grassroots level. The first opportunity for young people to play a sport is within the community. It’s such an important vehicle to get children active outside of the school environment.

If you’ve got a strong community sport structure it gives children and young people the opportunity to participate from a young age. Most importantly if you’ve got that pathway linked in to National Governing Bodies, and other  community clubs, then you’ve got exit routes to take children as far as they want to go.

Most of our success comes from building a strong foundation at a young age. The only way you can do this  is to start at the foundation level; giving children fundamental basic skills for sports that gives them a really good start in whatever sport  they want to particpate in as they develop and grow. For instance, we will now start  our community development at Key Stage 1, where we will give all our children the BASIC skills needed to develop and play sport. The Urdd have a clear pathway for all community sports and a competition pathway from the local level to Gemau Cymru.

It’s important to give children the opportunity to develop their language skills outside the school environment and to develop it through sport. We’ve found through sport, by the numbers that have participated, it’s been a fantastic vehicle. Not only for developing the language but for developing community sport and developing young children and keeping them active. It’s a simple model that we use; we develop coaches, we find young people to work with and then create fun, sustainable activities. It’s a simple model that works fantastically well and the language is a key element to this success product.

It’s just giving children the opportunity to access local community activites and to make sure that what is on offer is of a high quality, with high quality leaders and volunteers, who are being supported really well and are delivering it for us. I think if that foundation is right the world is our oyster for Wales and for developing future stars.

This blog was written in conjunction with the launch of a strategy for Community Sport in Wales.  If you’d like your say, get involved in the debate on twitter – using the hashtag #communitysport and you can mention us @sport_wales

Thursday, April 19, 2012

#communitysport – South Wales Police

Our latest Community Sport blog is written by South Wales Police’ Divisional Commander of Eastern BCU Chief Superintendent Alun Thomas.

HERE in Cardiff we are extremely fortunate to have the very first event of the 2012 Olympics.
A number of events are being held in Cardiff, athletes will be based here, and of course the Torch will be passing through.

This presents a fantastic opportunity to encourage our young people to get involved in sport.
As a police force we see the positive impact sport can have in bringing communities together and reducing crime and anti-social behaviour.

Sport teaches young people discipline, respect and team spirit which benefit not only themselves as individuals but the wider community.

Our Neighbourhood Policing Teams regularly organise local sporting events from football tournaments to skating sessions which help take young people off the streets where they can become victims or perpetrators of crime and disorder.

These events also encourage positive contact between young people from different parts of the city, therefore improving community cohesion.

Crime is at a 25-year low in South Wales but we cannot become complacent.

Achieving an even safer capital is a team-effort in which sport has a part to play.

With the Olympics right here on our doorstep, there is no better time to become part of this winning team.

This blog was written in conjunction with the launch of a strategy for Community Sport in Wales.  If you’d like your say, get involved in the debate on twitter – using the hashtag #communitysport

#communitysport blog – Aly Rowell

Our latest post in a series of blogs on Community Sport comes from Aly Rowell.  Aly is a freelance sports broadcaster, primarily with BBC. She has competed for Great Britain in the sport of modern pentathlon and now likes to dabble in triathlon.

Before I started at BBC Wales I was competing professionally in Modern Pentathlon. It’s not a common sport, so growing up I was a member of the local swimming, athletics, fencing and pony clubs.

It’s the hours of training spent at these clubs as a youngster that lay the foundations for a sporting career. I’ll never forget the advice coaches gave me when I was a youngster – guidance that stays with you as an athlete and which I now find insightful and useful in my second career as a journalist.

Working in sports journalism, it’s now not often I get a chance to visit the huge number of grassroots sports clubs in almost every town or village in Wales. But every athlete or sportsperson that I interview will have arrived at one of these local clubs as a child, with little or no experience of that sport.

All major titles and accolades that they might have won can be traced back to their first experiences at their local clubs. After all, it was the enthusiasm and knowledge of the coaches in these clubs that got them hooked for life.

Would we have athletes such as Helen Jenkins if she hadn’t gone to Bridgend Swimming Club as a youngster? Or Geraint Thomas to Maindy Flyers or Dai Greene to Swansea Harriers?

It’s these clubs that should take at least some credit for any Olympic medals won this summer.

Follow Aly on Twitter @AlyRowell.

This blog was written in conjunction with the launch of a strategy for Community Sport in Wales.  If you’d like your say, get involved in the debate on twitter – using the hashtag #communitysport

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Making Community Sport count - by Huw Lewis AM

It's 100 days to go until London 2012 and Sport Wales today embarks on a series of blogs about Community Sport. Huw Lewis AM is the Sports Minister for Wales.

Sports Minister Huw Lewis AM

Growing up, it is probably fair to say that I was less gifted at almost every sport than almost every last one of my contemporaries! But despite this, I have throughout my life always been acutely aware at how sport can enrich people’s lives and, in particular, how it can give young people a chance to create a positive future for themselves. From the rich boxing heritage of my home town, to the outdoor sports facilities my dad help set up in Aberfan, or the fantastic and newly community-run Merthyr Town FC – there has never been any doubt in my mind that sport has a unique ability to bring together and strengthen families and communities.

I am therefore especially pleased that Sport Wales has developed a strategy that seeks to take this idea and run with it. The new community strategy being launched today is an exciting moment for sport in Wales, and for our country as a whole.  That is because, as I’ve written on this site before, sport matters. It matters beyond the results of your local teams and clubs – sport can have a reach into almost every aspect of our lives. Physical activity can make a valuable contribution to our health and wellbeing; it can bring people together and it can break down barriers.

That is why I am passionate about making it easier for everyone to access and to stay involved in sport throughout their lives.  This Welsh Government wants to provide young people with the skills, confidence and motivation to take part in sport and enhance the provision of sport to meet the different needs of individuals and communities. We want to increase the number of volunteers actively involved in sport and continue to support our current and future talented athletes to bring us success that we can celebrate together.
Every young person should have the chance to shine and be given an opportunity to contribute positively to their community, irrespective of their circumstances.  Sport can and does play an important role in helping young people and families deal with and overcome difficult situations and to strive for a better future.  This strategy, sitting alongside Sport Wales’ Child Poverty Strategy will play its part in helping to reduce and prevent poverty by reducing barriers and inequalities.

This strategy quite rightly challenges us all to think differently about how we best engage and retain people’s interest in and enthusiasm for sport.  We need to be bold, ambitious and innovative but we must also be focused on making a real difference where it is needed most. 

I warmly welcome the commitment of Sport Wales and other key partners in the public, private and third sector to this strategy and to the principles, values and priorities within it.  There is no doubt that we face serious challenges ahead to create in every part of Wales, a strong, successful and sustainable community sport structure but I believe it is achievable if we work genuinely and honestly with and for each other.

This blog was written in conjunction with the launch of a strategy for Community Sport in Wales.  If you’d like your say, get involved in the debate on twitter – using the hashtag #communitysport and you can mention us @sport_wales             

Neud Chwaraeon Cymunedol cyfrif - gan Huw Lewis AC

Mae hi'n 100 diwrnod tan Llundain 2012 a mae Chwaraeon Cymru yn heddiw dechrau gyfres o blogs am Chwaraeon Cymunedol. Huw Lewis AC ydy'r Gweinidog Chwaraeon i Gymru.  

Gweinidog Chwaraeon Huw Lewis AC

Wrth dyfu i fyny, mae’n deg dweud mae’n debyg mai fi oedd y lleiaf talentog ym mhob camp bron o bron bob un o’m cyfoedion i! Ond er gwaetha’ hyn, rydw i, drwy gydol fy mywyd, wedi bod yn hynod ymwybodol o’r ffordd y mae chwaraeon yn gallu cyfoethogi bywydau pobl ac, yn arbennig, sut maen nhw’n gallu rhoi cyfle i bobl ifanc greu dyfodol positif iddyn nhw eu hunain. O’r dreftadaeth focsio gref yn fy nhref enedigol i, i’r cyfleusterau chwaraeon awyr agored y bu fy nhad yn helpu i’w sefydlu yn Aberfan, neu Glwb Pêl Droed rhagorol a newydd Tref Merthyr sy’n cael ei redeg gan y gymuned – rydw i wedi bod yn gwbl bendant fy meddwl erioed bod gan chwaraeon allu unigryw i dynnu teuluoedd a chymunedau at ei gilydd a’u cryfhau nhw.   

Felly, rydw i’n hynod falch bod Chwaraeon Cymru wedi datblygu strategaeth sy’n ceisio datblygu’r syniad hwn ymhellach. Mae’r strategaeth gymunedol newydd sy’n cael ei lansio heddiw yn ddigwyddiad cyffrous i chwaraeon yng Nghymru, ac i’n gwlad ni yn gyffredinol. Y rheswm am hyn, fel rydw i wedi’i ysgrifennu ar y safle hwn o’r blaen, yw am fod chwaraeon yn cyfrif. Maen nhw’n cyfrif y tu hwnt i ganlyniadau eich timau a’ch clybiau lleol chi – gall chwaraeon estyn allan at bob agwedd ar ein bywydau ni bron. Gall gweithgarwch corfforol wneud cyfraniad gwerthfawr at ein hiechyd a’n lles; gall ddenu pobl at ei gilydd a gall hefyd oresgyn rhwystrau.

Dyna pam fy mod i’n teimlo’n angerddol dros ei gwneud yn haws i bawb sicrhau mynediad i chwaraeon a dal ati i gymryd rhan drwy gydol eu hoes. Mae’r Llywodraeth hon yng Nghymru eisiau darparu sgiliau, hyder a chymhelliant i bobl ifanc gymryd rhan mewn chwaraeon, a gwella’r ddarpariaeth o chwaraeon er mwyn diwallu anghenion amrywiol ein hunigolion a’n cymunedau ni. Rydyn ni eisiau cynyddu nifer y gwirfoddolwyr sy’n ymwneud yn frwd â chwaraeon a dal ati i gefnogi ein hathletwyr talentog presennol, a thalent y dyfodol, i sicrhau llwyddiant y gallwn ni ei ddathlu gyda’n gilydd.   
Dylai pob person ifanc gael cyfle i ddisgleirio a chael cyfle i gyfrannu’n gadarnhaol at eu cymuned, waeth beth yw eu hamgylchiadau. Gall ac mae chwaraeon yn chwarae rhan bwysig mewn helpu pobl ifanc a theuluoedd i ymdopi â sefyllfaoedd anodd a’u goresgyn, ac amcanu at ddyfodol gwell. Bydd y strategaeth hon, sy’n sefyll ochr yn ochr â Strategaeth Tlodi Plant Chwaraeon Cymru, yn chwarae ei rhan mewn helpu i leihau ac atal tlodi drwy leihau rhwystrau ac anghydraddoldeb.     
Mae’r strategaeth hon yn ein herio ni i gyd yn gwbl briodol i feddwl yn wahanol am sut rydym ni’n ennyn a chynnal diddordeb pobl mewn chwaraeon, a’u brwdfrydedd nhw drostynt. Mae’n rhaid i ni fod yn heriol, yn uchelgeisiol ac yn flaengar ond hefyd mae’n rhaid i ni fod â ffocws ar wneud gwahaniaeth pendant ble mae ei angen fwyaf.

Croesawaf yn frwd ymrwymiad Chwaraeon Cymru a phartneriaid allweddol eraill yn y sectorau cyhoeddus a phreifat, ac yn y trydydd sector, i’r strategaeth hon ac i’r egwyddorion, y gwerthoedd a’r blaenoriaethau a geir ynddi. Does dim amheuaeth ein bod hi’n wynebu sawl her fawr er mwyn creu ym mhob rhan o Gymru strwythur chwaraeon cymunedol llwyddiannus a chynaliadwy, ond rwy’n credu bod modd i ni gyflawni hyn os gweithiwn ni’n ddidwyll ac yn onest gyda’n gilydd ac er lles ein gilydd.
Ysgrifennwyd y blog hwn i gyd-fynd â lansiad strategaeth ar gyfer Chwaraeon Cymunedol yng Nghymru. Os hoffech chi ddweud eich barn, byddwch yn rhan o’r drafodaeth ar twitter – gan ddefnyddio’r hashtag #communitysport a gallwch ein crybwyll ni ar @sport_wales